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2006: A bad year for…

Who or what didn’t do so well over the last 12 months? Here’s our verdict:

Dresdner Kleinwort bankers

While organic goose and magnums of champagne may be on the menu for most bankers this Christmas, it could be broiler chickens and Babycham for their colleagues at Dresdner. The German bank is cutting as many as 7% of its staff in London. Those who are not handed the black bin bags will be happy to receive any form of bonus in 2007, paltry or not.

M&A bankers

With 2006 the busiest year on record for global M&A deals, M&A bankers won’t exactly be crying into their pillows this Christmas. But they may stifle a few sobs. European M&A soared some 40%, but fees failed to keep pace. Final figures from data provider Dealogic suggest revenues from European M&A deals rose a mere 4% last year, to US$4.6bn (2.3bn).

Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein in New York, says feeble fees are down to the commoditisation of investment banking products and the fact banks earn proportionately more money advising on smaller deals. He also points to the high involvement of financial sponsors (private equity firms), which he says are particularly savvy at negotiating services for a low price.

None of this is good news for M&A bankers, who’ve had their work cut out, but may not get much to show for it.

Amaranth Advisors?

While Amaranth itself undoubtedly had a very bad year, the fairytale of the hedge fund that lost US$6.5bn over two weeks in September appears to be ending happily. Brian Hunter, the trader responsible for the disaster, will undoubtedly be among the broiler-chicken eaters this Christmas, but other Amaranthians appear to have walked away unscathed – they’ve been hired by everyone from Goldman Sachs to Lehman Brothers.

“They’ve all found homes quite quickly,” says Peter Elliott at hedge fund recruiter Emerson Chase City. “It hasn’t reflected badly on the team as a whole, which is quite well regarded.”

Wall Street

While London revelled in its success, Wall Street spent much of 2006 scrutinising its navel. The Street was outdone by Europe on everything from M&A volumes to debt underwriting and IPOs. McKinsey & Co. were drafted in to identify the cause of the malaise, although many suggested it might be down to the monstrous carbuncle that is the Sarbanes Oxley Act.

Outplacement specialists

With hiring strong and redundancies rare, spare a thought for the outplacement specialists who hold the hands of redundant bankers – sounds like they could do with a little hand holding of their own.

Michael Moran, chief executive of City outplacement and talent management firm Fairplace, says the banking outplacement market is now worth 8m compared to a 20m peak in 2002-03. Worse still, he says the average price is on the slide, “Organisations used to pay 40k to 50k to support people who are made redundant. They’re now unwilling to pay much more than 2k.”

Naked egoism

2006 wasn’t a good year for anyone wanting to ‘big themselves up’ via email or video. Both Lucy Gao (she of the ‘come to my party at the Ritz with presents, but just don’t dare wear flip flops email’) and Aleksy Vaynor (he of the ‘see me play tennis and lift heavy weights video’) have achieved places in the annals of idiocy.

“Banking is a very urbane profession where people are seen as having natural skills and are not too focused on selling themselves,” says Neil McKay, a consultant at search firm Sheffield Haworth. “Making a video of yourself is seen as overly self-promoting.”

Agree or disagree with our 2006 ‘bad year’ guys? Add your comment and let us know what you think.

eFinancialCareers’ editorial team will now be taking a festive break before returning in the New Year. A very Merry Christmas to all our readers.

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